Launch School was Instrumental in me Landing a Developer Job

The biggest take away that I got from Launch School was confidence. I solve software engineering problems for a living and every day I reach back to the patterns that I learned here

I was starting my final year of a CS degree and I had been diligently learning to code outside of school for the past year. I would work through a new tutorial or follow along with the code examples in the latest book that I bought and feel pretty good about what I thought I knew. Unfortunately, when I would open a new text editor and try to create a new project from scratch I would just sit there frozen. I just could not get to a point where I could apply what I was learning in a meaningful way. On top of that, I was getting distracted by all the new/latest languages/frameworks/libraries that were popping up every day. I was trying to learn everything at once and I really did not have any idea what was relevant. I needed to be job ready when I graduated from college.

I was considering attending a bootcamp after I finished school. This was not a very desirable option for me. I have a family and going away for a few months would have been hard, not to mention the financial burden would have been hard to bear. In my search for bootcamps I came across Launch School. I had not considered an online school up to this point, but reading through the materials about what they were offering really piqued my attention. It was clear (from their literature) that it was going to be a long and slow path to success. You were not going to jump right into a Rails project; you would start at the beginning learning the foundations of Ruby. Here is where I almost moved on. I felt like I knew the basics and I was ready for something more substantial. I ended up deciding to "try" Launch School for a month or two. I convinced my wife that I could do both college and Launch School concurrently and that if it worked out I would be job ready about the time I graduated. Plus, I thought that I would just breeze through Ruby fundamentals and be working in Rails in no time. As an aside, I spent 20 years in the US Military. Going to college full-time, taking care of my family and working through Launch School ranks high in my list of hardest things I have done.

Within the first couple of days of starting Launch School I realized what I really did not know. College taught me a lot of valuable theory and learning on my own allowed me to learn the basic syntax of the language, but I really did not truly grasp what it meant to be a software engineer until Launch School started to teach me to decompose the Ruby programming language. Within a couple of weeks I was starting to program with purpose. I realized that previously, I was getting lucky a lot. I was surprised that I made anything work before without understanding concepts like variable scoping rules, pass by reference vs. pass by value and mutation of the caller. The best part was that although the language we are using was Ruby, I knew now how to decompose a programming language. I even attribute some of my success in school, where I was using Java and Python, to these skills and first principals. Launch School also placed an emphasis on being exact in how you talk about code as well as problem solving, both of which were instrumental in me landing my first developer job.

My first job was not as a Ruby on Rails developer or even Ruby. I was primarily using Node and React and they were transitioning towards Elixir. The training I received at Launch School gave me a common ground when it came to talking about code with my potential employer. Being exact and explicit gave us a shared understanding of the problems we were discussing. My ability to quickly discuss how I would set about learning a new language or framework quickly set their minds at ease about hiring someone with little experience in the stack they were using.

The biggest take away that I got from Launch School was confidence. I solve software engineering problems for a living and every day I reach back to the patterns that I learned here and still marvel at how relevant they are and how neatly they fit. As I continue to learn, I focus a majority of my attention on the things that don't change. When something is hard, I lean into it instead of backing away.